Tuesday, February 5, 2008


So the strange thing with victories and victors is that you often don’t hear the story of the defeats, struggles, difficulties along the way. Normally with me, people don’t hear about those hard points, and they focus on the highs. But I think you get a bit of an insight into the process because this is a blog which follows me much more closely. All that is to say that there were more rejections this week, actually today (Tuesday). There were three that came in today.

I had applied to a 5-year professorship mentoring program in Japan where they mentor you from an assistant professor into an associate/full professor (and you can go serve as an associate anywhere in the world; you don’t have to stay after the 5 years). They said no to my application. I figured it’s because they don’t like the papers I sent (the ones that are pending).

And I heard back on one of those papers. Remember there are 4 from the thesis. 1 is an applicational paper on jumping paratroopers and falling cargo. And three are more technical papers. You’ll remember I took a break from resubmitting the #1 paper to general audience journals. Paper 2 (out of the remaining three) came back saying rewrite and resubmit. Now, today I heard back about Paper 3 which said rewrite and don’t resubmit (I’m laughing). The quality is not even up to the journal (this was a physics journal). And one of the reviewers said I should consult a native speaker of English. Are you laughing, too? The strongest of the three (#2-4) was #2, so I didn’t expect much from 3 and 4. Still it surprises you. It’s strange that due to my graduate school situation, they brought in an outside expert to validate and confirm that this was good work and enough. And they brought in one of the top guys in the world and he gave his yes. And now, in trying to submit it, the paper doesn’t get a break. Some people ask why? I’m not sure. Tons of possible reasons. Reviewers have personal styles and don’t like others; sometimes reviewers have chips on their shoulders; the paper may not be good; time that has passed since the work was done puts it behind. I think I’m like a literary guy writing science articles because the reviewer had problems with correct sentences that I wrote. I think it might be best to do a 2nd year here and just build up a paper resume through new papers done here. Vinod, my friend in the same position from graduate school, is doing that. He’s not publishing anything from his thesis. He did have papers from grad school though (he wasn’t allowed to be first author), so he just started a professorship. But most probably, to be competitive, I may not get one for this fall. So I may just stay a second year. Not sure. Oh also, it’s easier (in my field) to get into a journal if you are a reviewer for it. It’s like payment for rendering your editorial services in a sense. Few will say this though.

Lastly, I was awarded a tutorship (something like a TA position in the states except more work). And I would rather be a writing consultant instead of a math (they say maths) tutor. So I just sent an e-mail asking what happened since they never responded. And they apologized because the secretary was supposed to get back to me and tell me that I did not get it. Perhaps I shouldn’t have sent the soft power essay as a writing sample.

I thought it strange that one of the reviewers used the words “no originality.” I just thought it interesting because I find most of my field highly original or lacking in creativity. So it was strange that someone from that community was saying that about me, especially when I love creativity and love being creative. I actually think if scientists were more creative or truly creative (compared to actual state) there would be an explosion in advancement. We do have some bright spots, but many of the people who think quirkily or differently don’t go into science. I’m not sure how I think because the guy said I was unoriginal.

The campus is alive at least.

For the past two weeks we have had freshmen on campus going through pre-orientation or tours. I was shocked because it was at least 4 weeks early. They still have two more weeks before everything begins. This past weekend was Parents Orientation so they came on to campus and many are still here helping their children to move in.

On top of that, we have had more people on campus because of summer courses. But the real reason we have so many people on campus during this second summer session is the annual and ever popular two-week long extramural summer school. It’s highly popular in Cape Town, and people come from all over the city to enroll and learn. People of all ages come and you can find classes with the elderly alongside the college-age. Courses range from wine tasting to figure drawing to transportation issues in Cape Town to the Renaissance, languages, clay figures, etc. I thought it notable that the mayor of Cape Town came to take the Cape Town transportation course. Pretty humble.

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